Chapecoense won't be forced to play season finale vs. Atletico Mineiro
CHAPECO, Brazil (AP) — The president of Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro said Thursday the team will not play its final-round match of the Brazilian league season against Chapecoense.
Nineteen of the Chapecoense's players were killed Monday in an air crash in Colombia. Three survived but are hospitalized in Colombia.
Chapecoense's acting president said earlier in the week that the head of the Brazilian Football Confederation, Marco Polo Del Nero, had ordered Chapecoense to play their final match using a team made up mostly of junior players.
"We believe in sport," Atletico Mineiro president Daniel Nepomuceno said. "We respect the pain. It's not the moment to demand that players" play this match.
Nepomuceno said he had talked with Del Nero, and said the CBF head had changed his mind. Nepomuceno said the match would not change the final standings, and said it was completely insignificant in light of the tragedy.
Del Nero was widely criticized on social media for nearly demanding the game.
Del Nero is facing heat from many sides. He has been indicted by U.S. authorities on corruption charges, but has not been extradited. He has not traveled from Brazil in more than year, fearing arrest if he does.
Del Nero's predecessor, Jose Maria Marin, is under house arrest in New York on fraud and bribery charges. Ricardo Teixeira, the president before Marin, has also been indicted and remains free in Brazil.
The CBF has called for seven days of mourning. The final round of top league matches in Brazil is set for Dec. 11.